1. Over 350 Community-Based matches have been made in Bradford, Sullivan, Tioga PA and Tioga, NY since 1991...which means we are 25 years old!
2.We recently began servicing Broome County, NY and have had a large number of volunteers signing up to become Bigs in that area.
3. Our office is located in the Towanda Police Borough.
4. We host an Annual Bowling Event called Bowl 4 Kids Sake. Check it out HERE!
5. Our longest current match is 10 years!
6.We're a United Way Community Partner
7. Our Bradford/Sullivan County Big Buddy Program Services 6 school districts and currently has 83 matches.
8. In November 2016 we started our newest board in Tioga, PA
9.We began a pilot Big Buddy Program in 2016 between R.B. Walter Elementary and Williamson High School. That currently has 18 matches.
10. We want to see YOU become a volunteer. Sign up here!
What if you could do something that would affect the future? So often we hear how people want to illicit change and make a difference but few realize that change starts with our children and leads back to us. My favorite part of the following video is how the Big, Max, shares that she began her journey with Little, Teanna, thinking that she was going to make a difference with her and ended up seeing the biggest difference in herself. Watch as Big, Little and Parent share their amazing story.
Poverty is an epidemic and escaping it can be a daunting task. Children who grow up in households and communities that struggle with low-incomes have more obstacles in learning and development. Think about a child raised by a high-class or professional family. According to, www.weareteachers.com, they will have heard nearly 45 million words by the age of four. By the same token, a child living in poverty will have only heard 13 million words by that age. This is a 22 million word gap in their vocabulary; before they even hit kindergarten they're at a disadvantage. Imagine now that this child has gone off to elementary school and their job is to focus on learning. Thankfully, many school districts now provide free breakfast and free/reduced lunch programs but what about dinner? Come mid-afternoon I know that I am starting to get hungry and here we have a student, sitting in class, who is not focused on 2+2 or who the president was in 1905 but whether or not they are going to eat before the next school day. Not only is this a frightening reality, it can damage neural connections related to the control of their emotions.
What Can I Do?
Your role, as a mentor, is vital to helping children from low-income households overcome these discrepancies. Here is a list of five ways you can foster increase towards their brain power.
1. Read together: Grow and stretch their vocabulary by unlocking meaning from classic stories. An added bonus is that, whether they tell you or not, children love to be read to.
2. Create Discrepant Events: Find opportunities for your Little to try a new activity and discover that their method doesn't work. This gives you the chance to explain and build their schema (the file cabinet of knowledge we store in our brains to recall on later). Science Experiments are GREAT for this!
3. Allow Choice: Children in low-income household rarely have a say in anything that goes on in their lives. They are limited by food, money or parental illiteracy which means giving them a choice can provide a sense of control that they are otherwise lacking.
4. Be Aware but Don't Coddle: It is important to be sensitive to the needs of those that we are mentoring but it is not essential that we excessively cater to them. Often times individuals in poverty don't see a way out and therefore the cycle continues. Motivation is important but you can not do everything for them. They have to keep the fire going and put in the work to grow and learn.
5. Encourage: Be the voice that pushes them towards their goals and dreams. Everybody needs a cheerleader and you may be the only one they have!
Children are our future and it is up to us, as adults, to not only allow them freedom to express their thoughts and feelings but to allow them to dream without limits. Listen as Adora Svitak describes how adults can remove their restrictive tendencies and learn to trust kids with some pretty amazing ideas.
It is no surprise that Winter brings cooler temperatures to the Twin Tiers. You may be wondering what in the world you can do with your Little when the chill of the outdoors isn't so thrilling. Here is a list of our top 20 things to do in our area this Winter.
1. Take in a movie at the Sayre, Keystone or Rialto Theatre.
2. Make Smore's Indoors: Purewow has the steps you need!
3. Play a board game
4. Visit the Discovery Museum of Play in Binghamton, NY to check out their new Energy Exhibit.
5. Visit The Strong: National Museum of Play in Rochester, NY
6. Support the Bradford County Regional Arts Society and the Missoula Children's Theatre performing Gulliver's Travels on Feb. 11th at they Keystone Theatre and Mar. 4th at Nelle Black Westgate Auditorium in Canton.
7. Teach your Little a new skill. Whether it be craft making, computer building, sewing or even just basic fix-it skills; take whatever you are good at and pass that knowledge along.
8. Flip through a cookbook to find a meal they'd like to try: shop and cook together.
9. Create a care package for a soldier.
10. Conduct a Science experiment: You can find a whole list here.
11. Complete a puzzle
12. Volunteer at the Bradford County Humane Society. They always need friends to walk the dogs and play with the kittens.
13. Bake cookies and deliver them to a Senior Care Center in your community.
14. Host an ettiquete dinner.
15. Create an "Activity Jar": Discuss ideas of activities you'd like to do together and compile them in a jar. In the future, if you can't decide on an activity, refer back to the list you made!
16. Play video games.
17. Go ice skating.
18. Attend the BBBS Kid's Zumba class on Feb. 11 at the Bradford County YMCA.
19. Have an indoor picnic or tea party.
20. Raise money and attend our Bowl 4 Kids Sake Event.
I hope you enjoyed this list and that you find fun things that you and your Little can do together while staying warm this Winter!
I can't wait to celebrate my birthday and my favorite Pixar movie with the Little's in Bradford and Sullivan Counties. Up is a great reminder that "adventure is out there" and sometimes we have to let go of the past to embrace what is waiting for us in our future. For me, there is no better motto as I left a career in teaching to pursue this new adventure in mentorship. This month we will be thinking about all of the things we want to pursue and creating a miniature vision board to keep these ideas in mind throughout 2017. Bigs from each of the high schools are welcome to join during their Little's lunch time. If you are interested in learning when I will be in your district, comment below :)